A recent graduate of Bachelor of Laws with first-class Honours, and Bachelor of Arts in French and Spanish, Jessica Sutton has exceeded expectations even further by gaining a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to study a postgraduate degree at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom.
Sutton gained her recent bachelor degrees at the Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington and planned to take her studies even further by completing a Bachelor of Civil Law and the Masters of Studies of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies while at Oxford.
Her time spent studying towards her two bachelors saw her work alongside Law lecturer Dr Zoё Prebble, Law Professors Alberto Costi, Graeme Austin and Geoff McLay, and French lecturer Associate Professor Jean Anderson; all of whom Sutton credits for encouraging her to examine how the incredibly important, yet often overlooked feminist perspective is neglected in law.
Sutton explained that it is not just her teachers who have inspired and helped nurture the passion she has for women’s rights issues, but her friends too; many of whom she met while attending the 2019 LabCitoyen human rights conference in Paris, of which highlighted how women from various countries around the world face many of the same challenges.
This inspired Sutton to create her charitable trust ‘She’s Right’, which intends to “raise awareness of the gendered problems facing women all over the world. My team and I write educational articles, publish submitted pieces, and translate articles written in French and Spanish into English.”
Sutton has also been fortunate to secure access to many distinguished clerkships including at a Judge’s clerkship at the High Court, another at the Law Commission, and a separate role with New Zealand Institute of International Affairs.
Sutton expressed her excitement at further her studies while at Oxford and believed she must speak up for those who experience the highest relative rates of gender-based violence, mainly women of colour, trans women, and indigenous women.
This is true even in New Zealand where Sutton explained, “we have the highest rate of gender-based violence in the OECD,” despite our appearances that seem to empower women like our trio of female powerheads in the Prime Minister, Governor-General and Chief Justice.
Sutton says that she feels incredibly passionate about furthering the plight of human rights for women and girls worldwide by using International Law. She hopes to one day gain Special Rapporteur’s position on Violence Against Women at the United Nations — a fitting role in striving for, given her strong knowledge and experience in the sector.